Massage TherapyMassage Therapy
These days, it’s rare to find a top-notch resort or spa around the globe that doesn’t offer the luxurious amenity of massage. And guests are clamoring for appointments—lining up to be oiled, rubbed, and soothed— mind, body, and soul. And the more people reap the benefits massage and come back for more, the more demand there is for those in this hands-on profession. If you’re a touch-feely type to begin with, a major in massage therapy will teach you how to give professional massages that are both relaxing and healing. As a massage therapist, you’ll first learn about the body’s structure and function—how the body moves and how its skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues interact. Once you understand the body and what can cause it pain and discomfort, you’ll begin learning how massage can aid flexibility and ease aches and tension in muscles and joints. Your new skill set will include soft tissue manipulation, deep tissue massage, Western (or Swedish) massage, Shiatsu, and reflexology. You’ll also learn about acupressure and sports massage, as well as other specific techniques. Stress and anxiety are common reasons for people to seek out massage therapists, but you might be surprised to know that massage is often used to help people with allergies, depression, chronic headaches, asthma, insomnia, and many other problems. Some cancer and AIDS patients find relief with massage, too. It’s an increasingly active practice many claim to be incredibly therapeutic. Massage isn’t just about the body, and most programs emphasize the emotional, creative, and intuitive aspects of the field. You’ll learn how to be receptive to your clients and how to be sensitive to their needs—incorporating lighting, music, or aromatherapy to enhance the experience. You’ll become skilled in interpersonal communication, and even learn the basics of business practice. (And you’ll be eagerly sought after by your roommates and friends for your killer back rubs.) By the look on the faces of your clients, you’ll soon see this is not a thankless job. Most often, they can’t thank you enough!
The best preparation for a major in massage therapy is a strong variety of courses in the humanities, such as philosophy, English, religion, and languages. Courses in anatomy and health will be useful as well. A solid background in math and sciences will round out your foundation and give you a good head start in your massage therapy studies. (Giving massages to your friends and family is also a good way to prepare—and you’ll be popular, too.)